House Bill 700 was heard in committee March 25. This bill is supposed to be an alternative to expanding Medicaid in Missouri. However, this bill in not an acceptable alternative for many reasons. This bill eliminates the coverage of 44,000 Missouri children.
Children are not the only ones hurt by HB 700. This alternative bill also targets women. There is a provision in Jay Barnes’ bill that would eliminate the Uninsured Women’s Health Program. If this program is eliminated, approximately 40,000 women that currently receive services will lose coverage. Women who are at 100 to 185 percent of the federal poverty line are the women impacted. While women may be eligible for the exchange, 40,000 of those women will not automatically sign up for the exchange, resulting in a lapse of services. For every $1 spent on women’s health services, approximately $5 is saved. This program provides lifesaving cancer screenings, annual exams and birth control services. Why is it commonplace for women’s health to be under attack? Sexism is alive and well in the Missouri legislature, and people should be outraged.
House Bill 700 also does not adhere to the regulations surrounding the Affordable Care Act. This bill only expands Medicaid coverage to 100 percent of the federal poverty line. In order to receive the federal funds, Missouri needs to expand to 138 percent. Missouri legislators need to accept the federal mandate and stop trying to challenge the Obama administration. Get over it and focus on vulnerable Missouri residents.
Ben Edes is a Columbia resident.